Green Room

What is ‘Obama supporter’ Bill Clinton up to?

posted at 3:50 pm on June 6, 2012 by

Politico’s Roger Simon has a column noting that “Obama super-surrogate” Bill Clinton is sabotaging the current president’s re-election strategy (much, it should be emphasized, to the chagrin of liberals). Simon pays Clinton the left-handed compliment of calling him “pretty good at” being a saboteur before offering up a litany of the former commander-in-chief’s greater and lesser offenses on the campaign trail in recent weeks.

Topping the list is Clinton’s hammering the final nail in the coffin of the Bain Capital strategy by crediting GOP opponent Mitt Romney on television with having “had a sterling business career” that—combined with his years as governor—“crosses the qualification threshold” for president. (A more recent contender is Clinton’s having boasted at a fundraiser this week in New York that “I’m the only guy that gave you four surplus budgets out of the eight I sent.”)

The question that arises is “What is Clinton up to?” Simon writes:

Some think Bill is trying to undermine Obama’s campaign today because he wants to boost Hillary in 2016. I don’t see that. If Obama loses this time, the Democratic nominee will face an incumbent Mitt Romney in 2016. If Obama wins this time, the nominee will run for an open seat. It’s not certain which would be tougher to win.

Notice that his observation, which I think is on point, only rules out a possible Clintonian motivation. Simon never gets around to hazarding a guess as what the former president has up his sleeve.

I don’t profess to have an answer myself, but I have assembled a list of clues that may shed light on the method behind “Slick Willie’s” madness. For one thing, there is the bitterness that occurred between the Obama campaign and Clinton’s wife’s campaign during the race for the 2008 Democratic nomination. This antipathy culminated in January 2008 with accusations of racism leveled against Clinton by the Obama camp. For those who need a refresher, here is Joe Scarborough reporting on the dust-up.

One possible read here is that Clinton is throwing caution to the wind and settling a score with this young upstart, even if it means his party loses control of the White House.

Support for this hunch can be found in Clinton’s repeated slights of the current administration. These include hisupstaging Obama at the White House in December of 2010, a decided lowpoint of his presidency, and then “sleeping with the enemy” in May of the following year, when Clinton conducted a friendly chat with Republican congressman Paul Ryan. Clinton’s perfidy even went so far as giving credence to rumors that he was considering hosting a show on the FOX News Channel, a cable network Obama has assailed as “destructive for the long-term growth of a country that has a vibrant middle class and is competitive in the world.”

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One possible read here is that Clinton is throwing caution to the wind and settling a score with this young upstart, even if it means his party loses control of the White House.

Maybe it’s simply that he can’t support such a corrupt, anti-American administration. Not all liberals are radical leftists.

I would like that to be the reason.

DanaLynn on June 6, 2012 at 5:01 PM

There seems to be two different possible strageties at work here:

#1 Clinton has lost his mind and is just telling the truth and his handlers can’t rein him in.

#2 Clinton is being set up as the fall guy for when Obama blows the election. Disunity in the Party, Ex-President sunk him before he could really get into the campaign, etc. That sort of stuff.

We will have to wait and see.

Johnnyreb on June 6, 2012 at 5:24 PM

Bill Clinton just likes talking and being on TV. So he’s saying stuff that he knows will get attention. Also, the Clinton’s never forget. Or forgive.

MrX on June 6, 2012 at 5:40 PM

Don’t forget, Former President Jimmy Carter, has been doing much the same thing. I’ve seen a video Of Jimmy Carter saying that while he, Carter, will vote Democratic; Mitt Romney is a good man and would make an acceptable President.

Right now, I predict Mitt Romney by 5%. I suspect that their is an, unintentional, bias in the polling. My suspicion is that a number of Americans don’t want to admit that they will not vote to reelect America’s first Black President.

Linh_My on June 6, 2012 at 6:03 PM

Consider the possibility of an upset in the Democratic convention 2012: someone nominates Hillary and she wins the nomination instead of BHO.

EL on June 6, 2012 at 7:31 PM

It’s my opinion that the Clintons do in fact love this country, and generally believe that their liberal/outright leftist policies are in the nation’s best interest. The Obamas, OTOH, have a contemptuous attitude about the US.

Ultimately, Billary are vastly superior statesmen who know when and how to flee a sinking ship. It would seem to me that the more inept Obama is made to appear, the more powerful Hillary’s position becomes in a future presidential bid.

WeekendAtBernankes on June 6, 2012 at 7:44 PM

Bill Clinton might be a snake, but he is certainly has mastered the game of politics. Like anyone, he makes mistakes, but in politics once might be a mistake, but twice or more is clearly intended with a reason and goal he wants to achieve.

If there is anyone who knows and understands Obama it is Bill Clinton. He probably understands him better than Michelle or any of his long term associates and knows all his secrets. It would be almost unthinkable to believe that the Clintons have not gathered everything known about Obama into a dirt file.

When Bill Clinton seems to be undercutting Obama’s election strategy, it has to be assumed there is a reason. When his efforts seem to be in conflict with his party there has to be a very good reason. Either way, Bill is telling everyone that Obama is not good for the presidency, not good for the nation, and not good for the Democratic party.

Of course there could be underlying reasons. Obama may not be the politician Clinton is and certainly does not have the ability to plan anything long term, or longer than next week, but the Clintons excel at it. If they intend for Hiliary to run in 2014 they may not want to come into four more years of Mess of Obama. They may well understand that after four more years of Obama, there will either not be a Republic as we know it, and with that a presidency that she would want, or decades before there is a chance a democrat may sit in the oval office again. Letting Romney clean it up over the next four years would be a much better solution for the Clintons and the party. The assumption being that Romney is going to have to make the difficult decisions and bear the blame for them.

Then again, it could be just a simple, time to get even by taking the presidency away from the Obama’s like they did from them. Bill really wanted to be back in the White House and into his world that he enjoys so much.

Franklyn on June 6, 2012 at 8:51 PM

Don’t forget either that the title of the latest book about Obama “The Amateur” is taken from an alleged Bill Clinton quote.

Would love to see Clinton make a few more “gaffes” like this.

Jay Mac on June 6, 2012 at 9:54 PM

Bill Clinton is simply out reminding us all that the Democrat Party is still very “moderate” and “pragmatic”. They see the writing on the wall and when it’s Bambi’s time, under the bus he will go.

FruitedPlain on June 7, 2012 at 9:38 AM

Bill’s still waiting for Barack to bring him a cup of coffee.

What happens when a charming sociopath runs up against a icy narcissist? I dunno but it’s fun to watch.

Fallon on June 7, 2012 at 10:00 AM

It’s my opinion that the Clintons do in fact love this country [snip]

WeekendAtBernankes on June 6, 2012 at 7:44 PM

Well, Bill perhaps, if there’s room in his heart for anyone but Bill.

But Hillary, not so much – remember, she dedicated her college paper to Alinsky.

bofh on June 7, 2012 at 10:15 AM

But Hillary, not so much – remember, she dedicated her college paper to Alinsky.

bofh on June 7, 2012 at 10:15 AM

And, Alinsky dedicated his book to Lucifer:

“Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical: from all our legends and history … the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment that he at least won his own kingdom — Lucifer.” – Saul Alinksy

Fallon on June 7, 2012 at 10:59 AM

I think it comes down to this:

No matter what his core beliefs may be, Bill Clinton has always tried to project a public image of a new democratic centrist, whether as an active participant in the DLC in the ’70s, ’80s and early ’90s until his election in ’92, or through his Clinton Presidential Center since 2000. He understands that the electorate has a strong conservative bent that should not be dismissed, or dissed. So his pitch to the public was the “third way” back in ’92, and the American public bought it.

From his perspective, I think he believes that the success of the Republicans in the ’80s was not so much attributable to their strengths, as it was a reaction to the strong leftward drift of the Democrat Party with McGovern and eventually with Carter (in ’80).

Bill Clinton is, after all, a Democrat. And regardless of the fact that he is from Arkansas, he does not view things from a perspective that most of us commenting here on Hot Air would truly understand, let alone embrace!

I think he also believes that Obama has pushed the ultra-progressive agenda, and also revealed himself and his politics in a way that is past an acceptable point of no return with the American people — too many people, including independents and many Democrats are simply no longer enamored with “The One” any longer, and Bill Clinton knows it as well as anyone. I think he believes that there is a very high probability that Romney will win in November, regardless of what Obama does.

If he is seen as the “loyalist” on a presidential level defending Obama all down the line, and Obama is convincingly beaten in the fall, then that hurts Bill Clinton’s image, and therefore Hillary as his candidate for 2016.

Trochilus on June 7, 2012 at 1:10 PM

These days Bill constantly talks about having balanced the budget and left a surplus during his Administration, even though it was a Republican Congress that forced his hand.

And they forced his hand on welfare reform as well, but he publicly takes the credit for anything seen as a success, and it does appeal to independents and conservative Democrats.

He is not a dumb guy!

But I just think Clinton smells a Romney victory regardless. Yesterday had to be the clincher.

If Obama is defeated in November, Bill Clinton would be restored to his position as the de facto leader of the party, and Obama would quickly become yesterday’s newspaper — a flash in the pan.

But if Obama somehow manages to win, the Clinton way would likely be seen as the “Ancien Régime” by a generation of new and particularly nasty little progressives, with no need to show any restraint or even pay lip service to caution in politics. They would try to roll over anything in their way in their quest for what they risibly call “economic justice.”

Yes, it is true that the Clintons would have to defeat Romney seeking reelection in 2016, rather than having an open field at the end of the Obama term. But there is absolutely no guarantee that a reelected Obama would reappoint Hillary to State, or to any other position for that matter. Biden is making those funny noises about running in 2016, and he would certainly not want her to have a stage on which to act.

Plus, Bill Clinton is just arrogant enough to believe they would find a way to defeat Romney, much as he was able to defeat George H.W. Bush in ’92, with a strong assist from Ross Perot to draw away enough of the independent vote.

He also knows that the Tea Party conservatives are potent force in politics going forward. The deficit and the budget problems are not going to be easily resolved issues — by anyone. So he would do whatever he could from his perch to foster the driving of a wedge on the conservative side of the political ledger — including finding back channel ways of “encouraging” a third party run.

Trochilus on June 7, 2012 at 2:21 PM

Note: I’m sorry this too long. I don’t have time to make is shorter — Mark Twain and such.

Start with some solid assumptions:

– Bill Clinton hates Obama as much as ever. See _Amateur_ to read an argument in which Clinton — not long ago — rails heatedly against Obama the amateur.

– Bill Clinton is a superb poker player. Obama’s team is crude, relies on intimidation and is unable to play poker.

– If Bill Clinton wants to take Obama’s knees out, he’s going to do it with plausible deniability with regard to intent. This means that he knows he will be walking comments back after the damage has been done.

– Bill Clinton plays the politics game as good as any.

This current round started with Clinton stating that Romney has a “sterling” business record. “Sterling” is not a word used by accident. Clinton’s other statements were aimed at the Obama campaign jugular.

I will not believe that this confluence of statements is an accident on the part of Clinton. He’s never been gaffe prone, and now, all of a sudden, we are to believe that he’s got diarrhea of the mouth? The excuse that he’s getting dottery at 65 — without previously showing any signs — is extremely unlikely.

Think about it; Clinton is in and out of the public eye, and yet the only signs of his senility are several statements he made that harm with precision Obama, a person he has hated since ’07. That’s a selective senility.

Obama supporters and the media love to point to how he kisses and makes up with Obama. Today, on CNN, Clinton mentioned how many events he did for Obama during this cycle and in ’08. If that’s his evidence for enduring support for Obama, we know he’s not telling the truth because he certainly hated Obama while doing events for him in ’08.

Then, there’s the timing. Several blathering talking heads have wondered why Clinton would fire so many shots so early. Well, if he were better at reading the tea leaves than us, he saw that June was unfolding as a hard month for Obama. Hit Obama hard early, and Obama’s fund raising dries up.

It’s not out of the question that Obama might sabotage a Democrat candidate. Clinton would self-identify more with Mitt Romney than Obama. Given the respect that Obama has shown Clinton over 3 1/2 years, he may well believe that his relationship with the Oval Office would be no worse under Romney.

Lastly, I have a conspiracy theory based upon a passage in _Amateur_ in which Bill gets into a heated argument with Hillary because Bill wants her to run against Obama. We know that she didn’t go that route; however, what if Bill had floated the idea of Hillary as V.P.? Were she rebuffed, Bill would be an enemy Obama wouldn’t want. I doubt that Chicago politics would work against Bill Clinton.

PopsRacer on June 7, 2012 at 11:51 PM

Clinton wants Obama convinced he is unelectable — so he retires and allows the D convention to nominate the most ready person >> Hillary 2012.

KenInIL on June 8, 2012 at 9:24 AM

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